Two simple elements, hydrogen and oxygen, bind together to form 1 molecule of water, the most abundant and important substance both on Earth and in the human body.
Unfortunately, Pure (100%) water does not exist naturally on our planet. There is no place that is just water, like distilled water; there are always minerals and other substances contained. The planet's natural water varies in mineral content, as does the water found within the human body.
The adult body is at least 60% water, but this percentage is even higher before birth. As late as 32 weeks of gestation, the fetus is more than 80% water and is surrounded by the ocean-like water of amniotic fluid. (Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Haas and Levin, 2006)
On average, we need about 12 cups worth of water each day to stay hydrated. These cups don't have to come solely from drinking water; however, They can include the water our food contains, as well as the water that is released when our food digests. In the United States, we average about 4 cups of water from day's food, and the breakdown of this food provides us with an additional cup. But we need to drink the remaining 7 cups! Not drinking enough water will lead to dehydration that can be linked to chronic diseases. (Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Haas and Levin, 2006)
Choosing your drinking water
Let's look at our drinking water choices before we decide which maybe right for you.
The majority of tap water comes from groundwater or rivers/streams/lakes that is treated at local water treatment plants. These plants typically use filtration and chemicals to make the water drinkable. Tap water does contain contaminants such as; microorganisms (e.g. bacteria), disinfectants (e.g. chlorine), and inorganic chemicals (e.g. calcium, copper), These contaminants are regulated and must be kept below a certain level. See website linked for the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines Summary.
Although the water is treated at treatment plants, it is heavily influenced by our everyday lives. What we pour down the sink, flush down the toilet, dump onto the street, the chemicals and fertilizers that local farms use, We should all make a more conscious effort in our daily lives to help preserve our water supply.
Is "natural" water from surface or underground springs. Usually only minimally treated (disinfected with chlorine) and then bottled up by companies unprocessed. Spring water can have varying levels of mineral content that is dependent on the source region of the spring (refer to the individual companies websites for source and mineral content).
Either from natural sources or added in during the bottling process. This water contain higher levels of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and you can visually see this as bubbles or hear the release of this gas when you open the bottle. Common names is sparkling water or seltzer water. If consumed in large quantities the CO2 can enter the blood stream and affect the pH balance.
Filters remove extra contaminants from the water source (chemicals, metals, bacteria). These filters can range from adapters you attach to your sink faucet, built in filters attached to water containers, or a whole filtration system attached to your water pipes.
Activated carbon is the most common type of filter and it essentially attaches to the contaminants in the water and thereby removing them from your drinking water. Two things to remember about carbon filters: 1) don't run hot water through it as it can cause the contaminants to be released. 2) change out the filter when indicated, they can only hold/filter out a certain amount of contaminants before they stop working.
Reverse Osmosis utilizes pressure to filter water through a special material (membrane) that has very tiny holes that trap the contaminants and only allows the water molecules to flow through. They are quite larger than carbon filters and usually cost more. but can do a better job at filtration.
Distillation requires the boiling of water to produce water vapours (steam) that are then collected in a separate container and cooled back down to produce liquid water. This removes all the minerals from the water source. A concern with drinking too much distilled water is that it may remove the minerals from the body that are required for normal function.
Given all these different water options which one do we recommend?
Filtered water can provide a clean and affordable option to drinking water that most of us can benefit from. Tap water may contain too many contaminants and with growing pollution it is becoming less and less desirable, Spring water is just too costly and the amount of plastic is just too wasteful to be consuming on a daily basis. Carbonated and distilled water could disrupt our body system if consumed in large quantities on a daily basis.
Let us know which water option you go with and why.